NHL Notes: Awards, Expansion Draft Collide in Las Vegas

It's 116 degrees in the ice hockey capital of the world.

For the next few days, Las Vegas is the place to be on skates. The desert gambling mecca is hosting the NHL's annual postseason awards show on Wednesday, when the league also will reveal the Vegas Golden Knights' choices in the expansion player draft to stock the club with talent for its inaugural season in the fall.

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Las Vegas has hosted the awards show for several years, welcoming the NHL's best for a red carpet presentation and a short week of partying in a city that knows a little something about entertainment.

But Vegas' hometown team is in the spotlight for the first time this year, reaching a major milestone in its process of becoming the NHL's 31st franchise -- and doing it during a heat wave.

Combining the awards show and the expansion draft should only enhance the fun for Vegas fans welcoming their city's first major professional sports team. Thousands of those fans are expected to gather at T-Mobile Arena after the expansion draft for a raucous "Round Table Rally" to celebrate the Golden Knights' first major acquisitions.

"You don't always have to do things the same way," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the two-for-one Vegas show. "We're not afraid to try something a little different. We think it's going to be a lot of fun for our fans, particularly those here in Las Vegas" (see full story).

Devils: Constant in recent years has been missing playoffs
NEWARK, N.J. -- If anyone needs the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft, it is the New Jersey Devils.

After making the playoffs for 20 of 22 seasons, the Devils have fallen on hard times. They have missed the postseason for the last five years and they are coming off their worst season in nearly three decades.

In some ways, it's not surprising. After years of success that included three Stanley Cup championships and two other trips to the championship round, New Jersey ran into problems after going to the final in 2012.

The team was aging. Its drafts were weak. High-scoring wing Zach Parise used free agency to sign with Minnesota after losing the Cup to the Kings. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk returned to play in Russia after the following season. There was a lack of scoring, a little less defense and little depth throughout the roster.

A team that knew how to make the postseason suddenly didn't have the assets to get there (see full story).

Red Wings: Judge denies request to block funding tied to new arena
DETROIT -- A judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons' move from the suburbs.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause "catastrophic damage" to Detroit.

The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit's public schools. It said a vote from Detroit residents was needed first.

The lawsuit sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money. The City Council on Tuesday approved $34.5 million in taxpayer-funded bonds for the project.

The arena, which will be home to the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the NBA's Pistons, opens this fall.

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